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  • Commission delays action that will determine best biofuels

    Despite a massive bank of evidence showing that the EU’s biofuels policy could cause more greenhouse gases than it saves, the Commission has decided to delay by at least six months any action on the phenomenon known as indirect land-use change (Iluc). T&E has said this is not only bad for the environment, but creates damaging uncertainty for the biofuels industry.

    [mailchimp_signup][/mailchimp_signup]The Commission was initially reluctant to recognise the concept of Iluc, under which the use of fields for growing biofuel crops can lead to increased greenhouse gases as new land will have to be land cleared to grow food crops. But last year it amassed numerous scientific studies and did some research of its own; a decision on how to change biofuels’ sustainability criteria to take Iluc into account was expected in December.

    But instead, Brussels said further analysis on the risks of Iluc was necessary, adding that a more detailed impact assessment will be released in July.

    T&E policy officer Nusa Urbancic said: ‘The science shows that Europe’s biofuels policy currently causes more environmental problems than it solves. Unless we have reliable sustainability criteria for biofuels, we will end up with fuels being produced that create more greenhouse gases than they save. This is why we need action to build indirect land-use change into the sustainability criteria now – a further delay helps no-one.’

    A recent study by the Institute for European Environmental Policy found that, unless the EU accounts for the effects of indirect land use change, extra biofuels coming onto the market will increase greenhouse gas emissions by between 81% and 167%.

    Oil companies such as BP and Shell are lobbying against using Iluc factors in sustainability criteria for biofuels. Oil companies are thought to want to meet much of their 6% carbon reduction target set out in the 2009 fuel quality directive by supplying biofuels.